AMES — Speed has its limitations.
Without precision, it amounts simply to running around, and as recently-crowned starter at left defensive end Mitchell Meyers said, “it’s no good.”
Meyers, however, has been plenty good throughout fall camp — so much so that he’s held off rapidly-rising JUCO transfer Trent Taylor on the depth chart.
It’s that blend of quickness and canniness that’s allowed Meyers to be on track for his first career start Aug. 30 against the North Dakota State Bison.
“Just experience,” the 6-4, 262-pound sophomore from The Woodlands, Texas, explained. “The more reps you get, the more comfortable everything feels.”
That goes for everyone.
While Meyers was notching 3.5 “touch” sacks in the Cyclones’ April spring game, Taylor — who figures to play a lot, as well — was finishing up a stint at Butler (Kan.) Community College.
It set the stage for what should be the final step in the ultra-fast Taylor’s Plan B-filled college football journey.
Taylor, a four-star recruit out of Lakeland, Fla., committed to Miami (Fla.) as a high school junior, but backed out as the Hurricanes’ faced repercussions from the Nevin Shapiro scandal.
So he visited Tennessee, liked it initially and played one game as a Volunteer before being dismissed for undisclosed reasons.
Hello, Butler C.C. — with an eye on Iowa State and a fresh start.
“It was just really a humbling experience,” Taylor said of his many paths — and occasional missteps — on the road to Ames. I’m not glad it happened to me but I had to grow up at a certain point. I’m probably one of the oldest guys here on the team.”
Taylor, a 6-2, 250-pound junior, is about 10 months older than the most vocal leader among the defensive ends group, Cory Morrissey.
But chronology doesn’t tell the whole story.
“(Morrissey) seems way more mature,” said Taylor, who boasts impressive pass-rushing skills and is working on being more solid all-around. “I’m learning from him, so I don’t really feel like the older guy.”
Older or not, Taylor infuses the defensive line with needed extra explosiveness as well as a second-chance mentality.
"I love it, I love it," Taylor said of being a Cyclone. "I’m glad I’m here."
Cyclone coach Paul Rhoads said he expects five defensive ends, including converted linebacker Darius White and JUCO standout Dale Pierson, to make a significant impact at least situationally this season.
And it’s Morrissey and Meyers leading the way.
Naturally, for Morrissey, an honorable mention all-Big 12 performer who did his growing up a couple years ago.
“Cory’s done everything we’ve asked and I couldn’t be more pleased, one, because he is a leader and all you have to do is watch him and they’ll learn,” first-year defensive line coach Stan Eggen said. “Yet he wants to help. We’re talking about a group coaching each other and that way they have to stay in tune on the sideline — watch the position — and he leads that, yes, but we’ve got to get more guys to want to help.”
Count Meyers and Taylor in.
They’re both playing faster and smarter on a team that’s struggled in recent years to mount much of a pass rush against the quick-trigger offenses of the Big 12.
The key: Getting off the ball.
“I’ve probably heard that 100 times — ‘Get off the ball, get off the ball,’” Meyers said. “And once you do that it sets everything else up for you. So the main emphasis is on getting off the ball, shooting your hands and getting the tackle. … Once (that happens) that tackle starts to set on you. And once he sets, you can really get a move on him.”